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Coração de Negro As Gibson Fretboard Timber


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I just found out the GC advertisement specifies Coração de Negro as fretboard timber on the Gibson USA Les Paul Quilt Top limited run guitars built in late 2011, sold in the USA by GC Platinum stores exclusively. To me as owner of one of these, it came as some surprise.


Researching this timber I found out that the species is called Swartzia benthamiana and has several synonyms. It seems to be one of the species often called Ironwood. Perhaps due to this naming it sometimes is sloppily referred to as Pau Ferro which however would be Caesalpinia ferrea.


For its high durability and resistance, Coração de Negro seems to be appropriate for inside and outside applications. For species protection reasons it is not offered as raw material here in Germany.


I assume that the Coração de Negro fretboard timber combined with the quilt maple top, likely Oregon Maple or Acer macrophyllum, contribute to the fast response and distinctive tone of this guitar.


Does anybody of you have experiences with that timber in general, as fingerboard in particular, or informations on other models featuring Coração de Negro as fretboard wood?

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perhaps, but I also thought that's when all baked maple fretboards started to appear.

That's the point which made me remember how Gibson ran out of timbers then. Perhaps they decided to try Coração de Negro on a Special Run as a trial balloon so to say? In my opinion, this timber passes the test! [biggrin][thumbup]


A late 2011 L6S Silverburst guitar and a 2012 SG Bass came with baked maple. They are fine. I have flatwounds on my 2011 rosewood-boarded SG Bass and roundwounds on the 2012 since the baked maple nicely supports the bright roundwound tone.

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Sorry for taking me nearly a week, here finally are the pics of Les Paul boards I announced in my previous post.


To obtain similar contrast and allow for better evaluation, I decided to take the pics of all guitars in the same Les Paul case, the only one of mine with crimson lining. Before looking at the Coração de Negro fingerboard, here are some rosewood fretboards for comparison.


The first photo shows a laminated Gibson Custom rosewood fretboard made in 2012 I always call "my yellow ochre one". It's the only one here with .010" - .046" strings. Note how dark the case looks compared to the other pictures - the fretboard colour is even brighter than it seems here due to automatic exposure:




Here's also a Gibson Custom rosewood fingerboard made in 2012 but solid. It has .011" - .050" strings as all the following:




This is a Gibson USA rosewood fingerboard made in 2012, unclear if solid or laminated:




As next the rosewood board of a Traditional 2013 Model and indeed made in 2013:




Finally, some shots of the Coração de Negro fingerboard of the Quilt Top 2011:






The Les Paul Quilt with the Coração de Negro fingerboard is the most unusual sounding guitar of mine. The differences are not that big but in sum they change the note envelope and overall tonal balance in a unique manner.


This instrument has a very bright, fast attack, followed by a tone with strong fundamentals and even-order overtones but slightly less odd-order harmonics than most Les Paul guitars. When playing clean sounds, these properties result in the best string separation I ever experienced on an electric guitar, making her an exceptional player for chord picking. Due to the bright attack and the smooth sustain, it has a distinctive punch also at extreme high-gain settings, with a subsequent wall of sound. She doesn't even get muddy when using neck or both pickups. Among mine, when used for heavy sounds, this one is the "Les Paul of doom" so to say.


She sounds a bit like an SG during string attack, but every note changes to a Les Paul tone within a fraction of a second. I don't know how much the Coração de Negro fingerboard contributes to it, and which way the different maple timber of the top affects the tone, but I guess it has to do with these woods. Furthermore, if I didn't know that the pickups are Burstbuckers 1 & 2, I would guess they were "cool" sounding custom wounds with a "hot" level.


Anyway, it seems that a crazy fretboard is a nice match for a guitar looking crazy, too:


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Seems quite a dark wood but nowhere near as black as ebony and not as fine grained either. But is it works then fine, I'd be happy with it.


I presume it is pronounced "Kora-Cow"?

Couldn't be happier with it. [thumbup]


Sorry, on my keyboard I was unable to type the cedilla below the second "c" saying it is pronounced like a voiceless "s" in front of a dark vowel. I copied the correct Portuguese spelling into topic title and my posts. This would lead to a pronunciation like "Kora-Sow" I think.


Since I don't have notable clues of Portuguese, I did a little research to find this out. I also found the translation of the timber's name which I guess is not compliant to the present language regime in some countries. It is meaning literally "Heart of a Negro" and can be found on Brazilian websites as naming of other species, too. The Portuguese naming still makes me wonder somehow since the related tree Swartzia benthamiana grows by nature in Spanish languaged Central and South American countries only.

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  • 11 months later...

Surprising name change: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libidibia_ferrea


It seems that nothing stays the same anymore. The Sixties Fretboards topic made me research fingerboard timbers, and I found out they changed the botanical name of the tree building pau ferro wood. The common names still are pau ferro, Brazilian ironwood, or leopard tree, but scientifically, instead of Caesalpinia ferrea it is now called Libidibia ferrea.


Sounds much funnier I think. ;) Obviously Stevie Ray Vaughan loved a lustful, lascivious fretboard timber. [rolleyes]

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